At the conclusion of the recent impeachment trial, every member of the U.S. Senate cast a vote. Although Senator Romney and I usually vote together—and with a majority of Senate Republicans—we voted differently on February 13, 2021. While this kind of divergence is relatively rare for us, it happens from time to time. We both know from experience what it feels like to cast a vote contrary to those cast by most (or even all) of our GOP colleagues (nearly all of whom have themselves been in that position). It can be liberating. It can be terrifying. It is often both.
In any event, the fact that Senator Romney and I sometimes disagree (either with each other or with most Senate Republicans, or both) is not itself cause for alarm. To the contrary, it shows that neither one of us blindly defers to anyone. We each do our own homework and then, after conferring with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle and with each other, we reach our own conclusions. We each respect the other’s independent judgment and studied analysis, regardless of how strongly we might disagree on a particular vote. He and I have adopted this approach not just because it works for us specifically (as two senators representing the same state), but also because it helps advance what unites us.
Then-Governor Ronald Reagan made precisely this point in his speech to the California Republican Assembly in Long Beach, California on April 1, 1967. In an admonition that seems especially relevant in 2021, Reagan explained that “[t]he Republican Party, both in this state and nationally, is a broad party. There is room in our tent for many views; indeed, the divergence of views is one of our strengths. Let no one, however, interpret this to mean compromise of basic philosophy or that we will be all things to all people for political expediency…. Unity does not require unanimity of thought.”
While Senator Romney and I sometimes reach different conclusions, there is enough room in the Republican tent for both of us—just as there is room enough for all Republicans in a general election, regardless of how they voted in the primary.
All Republicans have more work to do as we chart the proper course for our party. I look forward to a promising future as we tackle the issues at hand, renewing our focus on the principles of limited government, as outlined in the Constitution and afforded to every American. Ours is the party best positioned to check the explosive growth of government, return power “to the States, or to the people,” and protect our God-given rights.
The Republican Party should work tirelessly to take back the House and Senate in 2022. Having different perspectives within our party leads to more robust debate, which in turn produces more thoughtful policy outcomes—all of which will be a benefit to Republicans in future elections.
“And here is the challenge to you,” Ronald Reagan boldly proclaimed in 1967. “It is the duty and responsibility of the volunteer Republican organizations, not to further divide, but to lead the way to unity. It is not your duty, responsibility of privilege to tear down, or attempt to destroy, others in the tent.”
Reagan’s admonition has never been more timely than it is today.
As if channeling Reagan’s irrefutable logic, earlier this week the Utah Republican Party issued a statement observing that “Disagreement is natural and healthy in a party that is based on principles—not on persona.” “In fact,” the statement continues, “those principles are the reason behind unprecedented American prosperity during the last four years. As 2021 begins, we look neither to the past, nor to be punitive.”
The tent of the Republican Party is open to anyone and everyone willing to support our shared, liberty-minded objectives. With our eyes fixed on the future, we should be including and inviting our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family members—and anyone else who might be discouraged or disaffected—by bringing more people into the tent.